In 1914, the Colorado Mountain Club, hoping to persuade Congress to support the establishment of a national park in the Estes Valley and Grand Lake area, arranged for Arapaho elders from the Wind River Reservation to provide Arapaho names for local landmarks. Part of that effort involved a two-week pack trip through the area, and the centennial of those activities is being celebrated with a series of events on August 9 at Rocky Mountain National Park.
The original event a century ago was organized by Colorado Mountain Club members Harriet Vaille and Edna Hendrie, who traveled to the reservation to interview Arapaho leaders and coordinate travel arrangements to Estes Park.
Harriet Vaille selected her younger cousin, Oliver Toll, to act as the ethnographer for the trip. Mr. Toll, along with local guide Shep Husted, began the two-week pack trip on July 16, 1914, along with three members of the Arapaho tribe: Tom Crispin, Gun Griswold and Sherman Sage.
Traveling throughout the Estes Valley, nearby mountains and Grand Lake area, Oliver Toll carefully recorded their journey along with stories and names the Arapaho provided. Besides naming several of the area’s peaks, the Arapaho met many local residents including Peter Hondius, Enos Mills and “Squeaky Bob” Wheeler. Oliver Toll organized his notes and produced a small book titled Arapaho Names and Trails, which continues to be sold in park bookstores.
The trip was part of a successful campaign to establish Rocky Mountain National Park, and a variety of events on Saturday, August 9, will celebrate those efforts.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Arapaho vendors will be featured in Bond Park, which is located in the town of Estes Park. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. a series of programs and dance presentations will be held at that site.
Other activities will be held in the park during the day and evening of August 9. Artist work from the Wind River Reservation will be on display in the lower lobby of the Fall River Visitor Center in the park. Work by a featured artist, photographer Sara Wiles, will be highlighted. Sara has spent many years photographing and recording Arapaho people and events on the reservation, and she will be available to answer questions about her artwork from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center auditorium, visitors are invited to join Arapaho Merle Hass and Alonso Moss for a special Saturday evening program about the Arapaho language; this program will be followed by a showing of the Chiefs Documentary.
All of these programs are free and open to the public. You'll find additional details at this link.
Since 1998, the Arapaho have been on several sponsored trips to Rocky Mountain National Park to participate in educational programming. Students, teachers and elders from the Wind River Reservation and Arapaho High School have learned about plants, wildlife and their cultural heritage, including the 1914 pack trip route of their ancestors. Participants have included several direct descendents from the pack trip including Sherman Sage’s great-grandson.